Retail Price: £4.99
Author: Rob Toone
The latest in a long line of Breakout rewrites comes in the form of Krakout from GREMLIN GRAPHICS.
An arrangement of blocks fills a three sided screen, with a controllable bat at the open end. A ball is launched into the playing area and ricochets around the screen, destroying the blocks on contact. When the ball approaches the open side, the player keeps it in play by moving the bat up or down into its path. The player starts with a supply of three bats.
Not all blocks explode on first contact - some absorb two or three hits before they disappear, while others spin to reveal a letter. Hitting lettered squares a second time gives the player an advantage, or 'supercharges' the bat.
Animated characters float about the screen, affecting the bat and ball on impact.
An options screen allows aspects of the game to be changed before play, these include: placing the bat on the left or right of the screen, varying the speed of both bat and ball and switching the effects on and off.
Control keys: P up, L down, SPACE fire
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface II
Use of colour: bright and distinctive
Graphics: well defined, if occasionally flickery
This is dead boring, unplayable, and has no lasting appeal. The graphics are all right, the sound isn't too bad (although there could be an in-game tune) and the options on bat and ball speed are a nice touch - but they don't help the overall feel.
Krakout's graphics are nice and fat, and they move smoothly, but the overall effect is really tedious. The blame oughtn't fall on the programmers; they seem to have done their job well enough, but the unfortunate thing is that the original concept is neither exciting or addictive. It is playable, but only once or twice.
What? Spent all your Christmas money already? Well, never fear, the golden oldie himself, PHIL KING, takes you on a tour of the latest budget-price rereleases...
Original Rating: 46%
This Breakout variant has dated very little - it's still as awful as when we first reviewed it in May 1987.
The player controls a bat to hit the ball which bounces around the play area, destroying coloured bricks. However, instead of the bat being at the base of the screen (as in most Breakout-type games), it's at the right-hand-side and is moved vertically to stop the ball leaving the screen. Some of the blocks need several hits to be destroyed, while others reveal a special letter, which if hit, activates a special feature. These include a double bat, an expanded bat and glue to make the ball stick to the bat.
Despite some useful options to change the speeds of the bat and ball, Krakout is severely lacking in addictive qualities - the layout of the screens is unimaginative and boredom soon sets in. At only two quid less than its original price (£4.99) it isn't recommended.
Hmm. Haven't I seen something like this before? What we have here is what might be politely termed an alternative reading of Arkanoid, the updated Breakout game that Ocean brought to your Speccy a couple of months back. And why not, you may ask? It's a good idea, so why not let everyone have a go at it? It worked well with Gauntlet - look how many excellent games that little number spawned.
In reworking Arkanoid, the Gremlin team have obviously tried hard not to duplicate it completely. The game is played, for instance, from left to right (or vice versa), not up and down. You have a choice of bat types and speeds and, best of all, ball speeds, which makes it much easier to get going. There are more capsule bonuses, including a shield that protects your rear, and you have to hit them twice to pick them up, rather than catching them as they fall down the screen. The aliens are nastier and can do all sorts of unpleasant things, like freezing your bat and eating your ball (oo-er!) There are more screens too - 100, compared to Arkanoid's 31. But the basic game's the same.
And, more importantly, it's not as good. Arkanoid's key is its simplicity - the format's so clever it doesn't need messing about with. Krakout, on the other hand, is horribly fiddly, what with all its thousands of options and everything else cluttering up the screen. And the block layouts lust aren't as fiendishly addictive. My main criticism, though, must be reserved for the side-to-side gameplay, which alters the game's balance and seems to have overstrained Gremlin's graphical capabilities. If Krakout were the only game of this type on the market, I'm sure the flags and bunting would now be out. But it's second and very much second best, and if you're going to beg, borrow or blag one of the Breakout lookalikes, you'd be wiser to go for Arkanoid.
Now, this is a good deal better. When this originally came out. I gave it what might be described as a less than generous review, mainly because at the time I was completely obsessed with Arkanoid, which with its sequel remains undoubtedly the best of these Breakout variants. Krakout, which was Gremlin's entry, turns everything 90 degrees so you're moving your bat from top to bottom and stopping the ball from leaving the screen on the right. It's got all the usual extras, although in this case you don't collect the capsules as they fly towards you. but simply have to hit the same square again. The graphics are a little basic, but it's eminently playable, and if you want some more bricks to batter, you could do far worse (Traz perchance?). The uncommitted, though, should spend the extra and buy Arkanoid.
The Biz (as those of us lucky enough to be embroiled in this staggeringly exciting industry know it) can be a funny old beast at times.
One part of the toothsome fright-monster that is The Software industry can be merrily working at one totally new concept that is exactly the same as another totally new concept being worked on by someone else. You've got to agree, it's a mad, mad zany whacky world.
This startlingly innovative revelation comes to light as Krackout from Gremlin appears on the shelves a couple of weeks after Ocean's Arkanoid. Indeed, there were a fair few disgruntled industry Figures when certain people realised quite how similar the products were.
However, that is all history and I'm sure Gremlin would rather Krackout was reviewed in its own right as an individual piece of software...
Krackout, like Arkanoid (oh dear, I'm not doing very well so far) goes back a long long way to the days when the Spectrum wasn't around and there was nothing on the TV sets of a nation except Blue Peter and bad TV rock shows. Then there was Pong. Pong was a kind of TV game-console thing which enabled two players to bounce a white square around the screen between two bats.
Things got a bit more sophis and a wall was introduced instead of a second player. Now it was just you and the machine. And that's essentially how the game stayed for a good many years. There were extending bats and descending walls. There were other things too but the game remained largely the same.
Krackout resurrects the old formula of bat, ball and wall and turns it into a very enjoyable though not particularly mentally taxing game. The storyline is complete rubbish and should be ignored totally (ooh, the phone will be ringing...)
On starting, you find yourself on the right-hand side of the screen, with the wall to the left. It's Breakout (or Arkanoid) turned 90 degrees to the left. Once you get going (by hitting Fire) the ball shoots off toward the colourful bricks. On hitting a brick, the ball will destroy it and then change its course. You'll have to prevent it sailing past you out of the screen by getting in the way. Depending on the angle at which you hit the ball, it will whizz off in an appropriate (and estimatable) direction.
Certain blocks will do special things when the ball hits them. Some turn into different shaped blocks with letters on them. By directing the ball so as it will hit one of these blocks, you can take advantage of the benefits each one offers. Some give you a longer bat, some make your bat sticky, others will explode, destroying surrounding blocks, some give you extra lives.
And there you go. Make your way through the screens, and admire the pleasing layout of bricks.
The graphics in Krackout are very nice. The aliens that drift around getting in the way and putting you off are certainly cute, and the blocks are colourful and about as attractive as blocks can be.
It's certainly more attractive to look at than Arkanoid, although I'm not sure if I'm a fan of the orientation of the wall and the bat.
If you bought Arkanoid, don't even think about this one.
If you've held off. For whatever reason, Krackout is probably better.
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
In its time, Krakout was one of a batch of Breakout-derivatives which clogged up the market, was it last Christmas? Still, it must have been one of the best, because it won an SU Classic (yay!)
The big gimmick in Krakout is that it's sideways instead of vertical. Other than that, you can play the game if you know how to move a joystick up and down. The patterns of coloured blocks become more complex as you clear level after level; there are also floating aliens which deflect the ball, and token blocks which give you special abilities.
Bonuses include Glue, so the ball sticks to your bat; Bomb, which destroys blocks adjacent to the token; Shield, which creates a barrier behind you so you cannot lose a ball; Missile, which gives you a single all-destroying projectile to fire; Slow down, Double speed, Dual bat, Expand, Extra life and so on.
To further tailor the game to your taste you can play left-right or right left, have an inertial or dual speed bat, and set the bat speed from 1-9.
Fab fun, well worth the money, and the ideal thing for whiling away the Christmas holidays.
Author: US Gold
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
Spectrum Cassette: £7.95
Commodore 64/128 Cassette: £9.95
Amstrad CPC Cassette: £8.95
NEW BALLS PLEASE
Balls are a bit 'in' at the moment. Especially, it would appear, when they are smashing multicoloured bricks to pieces. Breakout clones are suddenly appearing in vast quantities and spreading faster than Wordstar or Knight Lore clones did. Richard Eddy gives a personal run-down...
Taito, the company which produced the corky coin-op Arkanoid, are probably to blame for unleashing the craze, and then Ocean for producing a series of very competent conversions for the home micros. The ST version is undoubtedly the superior, retaining all of the arcade's original features - if it wasn't for the small screen you could almost think it was the arcade original. Imagine have just released it for the IBM PC.
Following in Ocean's footsteps came Gremlin's Krackout, which was somewhat jollier but slower and really didn't have the addictiveness Arkanoid provided.
Not to be outdone Elite shoved in their fourpenneth in the shape of Batty which now features on Hit Pak 2. Written by an ex-Ultimate programmer, Batty was polished and showed greater graphical sophistication than Arkanoid. And then everyone breathed a sigh of relief thinking that it was over...
'Not on your nelly!' shouted Audiogenic, Alligata, Pirate and CRL in unison, all proffering their latest versions which are: Impact, Addictaball, Smash Out! and Ball Breaker.
Apart from the games, comparing inlay storylines proves most interesting. Pirate's budget Smash Out! goes for a desperately-try-to-be-convincing story where the bat is supposed to be a spaceship lost in space and bricks are blobs of plasma, while Ball Breaker claims the ball is some chappie called Ovoid on a mission of annihilation. Personally I prefer Impact's 'Trapped in a 1970s arcade machine...' or Alligata's straight for the throat approach with '...I have difficulty imagining a bat is a spaceship... so let's call things a bat, ball and bricks - it's much easier!' And so it is.
I think you can quite happily disregard Smash Out; it is little more than a poor man's Arkanoid with measly graphics, nauseous sound and the addictiveness of drying paint. Okay, so it may have screen designer thrown in, but even this is fiddly to use and does nothing to push up Smash Out's credibility.
There's a lesson to learn here - if you are going to produce a clone you have to do it very well, or devise a novel twist on the formula. Which is what CRL did with Ball Breaker, originally released for the Amstrad CPC range, it took Breakout into 3-D and worked well with some great sound effects and a colourful layout. Ball Breaker is just released for the Spectrum and retains its playability - although to avoid colour clash the monochromatic graphics can make it difficult to see exactly where to position your bat. Complete with all the typical features, it also includes a laser gun which stays with you throughout the game. Ball Breaker adds up to a worthwhile buy if you fancy a different twist on the rest - and soon to be available on the Atari ST and Amiga.
Audiogenic, quiet for some time, return to our 16-bit screens with the elaborate Impact for the Atari ST and Amiga (and hopefully soon for the Spectrum and Commodore 64/128). Impact is quite the connoisseur's Arkanoid cleverly topped off by some great sounds (each brick, alien and the bat produces an individual sound, so occasionally it sounds like a decent tune gone wonky!). Graphically, it is what you would expect from 16-bit, utilising colour very well and sharp definition to add that extra bit of class to the aliens.
What gives it that little extra push is the novel way in which features, such as lasers, bat expand and catch are collected - a la Nemesis. Yellow tokens spin down from selected bricks when destroyed and, if collected, are stored in the power select pad at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. Pressing the mouse button when one is collected makes the ball slow down, collecting two and then pressing the button gives you the catch effect and so on through divide (3 balls), expand, torch (to see hidden bricks), laser, smart bomb (to destroy aliens), missile and forcefield, which doesn't have the rebound effect off bricks, but simply continues to smash its way round the screen until hitting a wall where it bounces off.
With 80 screens and 48 more you can design yourself using the easy-to-use screen designer, Impact definitely wins my approval as being the best just for sheer addictiveness.
But coming a close second is Addictaball from Alligata, which doesn't quite make it to the very top for the simple reason that it falls down on presentation and graphics. The use of colour is very dull on the first levels - mainly greys, greens, and blues used for the bricks and surroundings - which doesn't do much to create an exciting atmosphere.
However, Addictaball proves to be quite novel in the way the bricks slowly scroll down the screen in one long trail - its great saving grace. The trail can prove to be frustrating when, having died, you are returned to the beginning, or one of the internal stages within a level. Two weapons, laser gun and thruster (which allows you to move up and down the screen) can be collected at the very beginning, though they have to be replenished frequently by hitting the correct bricks.
Along the bottom of the screen is a barrier preventing the ball from disappearing but this gradually gets destroyed by the shower of fireballs which come down the screen, unless the fireballs are destroyed with the bat before they reach the bottom. There are cars, bikes and the like to be battered along the way which, if nothing else, adds a bit of humour to the game.
So, now what? Do we dare breathe a sigh of relief or is the next parcel we open going to be Revenge Of The Mutant Bouncing Balls From Jupiter...?
STOP PRESS! No relief breathing yet! We have just received Reflex from Players priced at £1.99 for the MSX...!
This is another Breakout variant following soon after Ocean's Arkanoid tried to breathe new life into the old formula. Arkanoid succeeded but unfortunately the same cannot be said of Krakout whose new additions have left it devoid of the appeal of the original game.
Like Arkanoid there's a poor attempt at a plot. In this case you are trying to "out manouevre the awesome ogre". Of course to accomplish this you must blast your way through wall upon wall of bricks.
The additions to the game include expanded bat size, glue bat (where the ball sticks to your bat) missiles, bombs, extra lives etc. These are activated if you succeed in hitting the right block but as you have little control over which block you hit once the ball is on its way. It's all fairly arbitrary. In Arkanoid the activating method was catching falling capsules which added to the complexity of the game.
Another change is that Krakout is played horizontally across the screen rather than the familiar vertical play of Breakout. I can't really see any advantage in this change, in fact it seems to detract from the gameplay.
On the plus side the graphics are very bright, you can vary the speed of the game and there are 100 screens worth of assorted bricks to batter, but in the final analysis it lacks an enduring addictive quality.
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